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The End of Turandot

My dismissal of Alfano's ending of Turandot in my review of Andrei Serban's lively production at WNO led to some spirited defenses of the composer from commenters. It's quite true, as some observed, that Toscanini cut Alfano's ending down, so what we usually hear doesn't represent his original vision. And it's also true that Alfano's ending is probably more satisfying than Luciano Berio's.

Still, though I have a lot of time to Italian opera, and I enjoy poking around in the withered sweet petals of all those forgotten late-verismo works of the early 20th century, I'm not a huge Alfano apologist. I did actually see "Risurrezione" (the opera he based on Tolstoy's novel) when Teatro Grattacielo did a concert version of it in New York, though I didn't review it (I did write an advance feature on the event), and I liked it better than Paul Griffiths did in the New York Times. But I didn't love it. And Alfano's "Cyrano" has found its sweet spot in recent years as an attractive star vehicle for both Placido Domingo and Roberto Alagna, but I'm not sure it's one for the ages.

However, plenty of people disagree with me -- including the very fine critic at "Le Monde," Renaud Machart, who really appreciated this week's premiere of "Cyrano," with Placido Domingo, in Paris, calling the opera "an anti-verismo masterpiece."

By Anne Midgette  |  May 22, 2009; 3:04 PM ET
Categories:  international , opera  
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I've read in a couple of sources that the heirs rejected any composer they considered to have a musical profile that could challenge Puccini's--which I think would be a highly counter-productive stance to take. And of course Toscanini did slash the work of he eventually chosen Alfano, which isn't wonderful but which is at least more coherent and interesting heard complete than dismembered.

I've always wondered what the finale might have been like if Resphigi had been offered a go at it. His gifts in orchestration would seem to mate well with Puccini's orientalism in Turandot, and Resphigi wrote well for the voice.

Posted by: WilliamFregosi | May 24, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

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